“Letters from a Recovering Camera Addict” Step 1: Admission

Seoul, South Korea.
Seoul, South Korea. Last week.

This article is written by Josh White, originally posted here. The views posted here are his and his alone and may or may not be shared by the website as a whole ;)


My name is Josh and I’m an addict.

No, I never did drugs. I don’t smoke. I hardly even drink.

I’m addicted to something more pricey than any of those. I’m addicted to cameras.

Any kind of camera. I don’t discriminate. I don’t care anymore if it is expensive. I don’t care if it is new. I don’t care if I’ve tried it before. If it is out there to be bought, I probably want to buy it.

I get angry at other addicts. This stems from a strong denial of my affliction. Stems from the inability to admit my own flaws.

Some say there isn’t anything wrong. This ISN’T an addiction. I’m here to say, they are wrong. Addiction by definition is the inability to stop a habit.

There are many symptoms. First, the morning coffee. The coffee, a different addiction, is just a means to sit in front of a computer and feed. The first thing you may check is ESPN or the news. That makes the addiction feel less real. Next though, the reality of it.

The next part depends on the “drug” of choice. Maybe you go directly to the newest gear news. If you prefer the old stuff, you check used shops for their newest posts. I used to be the prior but have migrated towards the later. “Wow, that is interesting” or “I took one of my favorite pictures with one of those.” The starting thoughts to a chain of events leading to getting a fix.

At this point, “you” still don’t feel there is a problem.

“I’m just looking..”

At work during free moments you check forums or reviews. Listen to other addicts talk about why they needed that fix. If you’re like me, you look at the old photos you took with the current “mark.”

“I remember when I took this. I really loved that camera…”

Other people need to latest and greatest. They aren’t the nostalgic type addicts like myself. They can forget the past easily because it will never be as good as the future. I was like this before. I remember the feeling of not wanting to use my current because I knew I would get the newer. The “lame duck” mentality.

“What if I take the picture of my life with this? How can I get something else then?”

This leads to another problem. Hoarding. The inability to let go because at some point something may be needed. Some day, you may want to fondle or hold. I’ve never really been a hoarder, but addiction is unpredictable.

Justification. The crux of the matter.

“If I only had that camera I could take the shots I want.”

Weirdly, that thought is very rarely followed by:

“I wonder how I can take interesting shots with the camera I have?”

At least not in the mind of an addict.

In our hypothetical day, the addict will then spend the rest of it daydreaming about what they could do with the new camera. They will dream of the inspiration. Somehow, when looking at forums and reviews they don’t seem to see the negatives. Either that or ignore them.

Finally before the day is over the website is checked one last time. Some small part of your brain wants it to be sold.

Not because you want the addiction to stop but because you want it to continue.

“It wasn’t really that good anyway. Tomorrow, there will be something better.”

Seoul, South Korea. 2014.
Seoul, South Korea. 2014.

When I look at my favorite photographers, there is something interesting about them. For the most part, they have a very specific style. Their photos have a “look.” They have a clearly defined “feeling” to their photos. Something that isn’t easily explained aside from with another hypothetical situation.

I open flickr and I see a photo without the name because, I am of course at work and the browser window is minimized. Even so, I know right away that photo was taken by Junku Nishimura ( a friend from Japan and probably one of the best contemporary street photographers in existence). I don’t need his name to know the photo is his.

People will argue this point. Most of the people that argue will be addicts. I know because I did so myself. They will say that if you have a style you can take photos of that style with anything. This is true, on some levels, but not all. Not because of specifications or technical details but because of the vision of the artist. Their camera is just their tool. It is a method to expose a frame. A medium on which to capture.

Anyway, I digress. I am slowly recovering. It is hard, I still fall back into the routine of addiction. Maybe I will always be an addict. In fact, I think I will be. I just want to learn how to deal with it better. I NEED to. I want to be proud of the work I’ve made and want it to be consistent. This addiction doesn’t allow for that.

So, I’ve decided to start with the 12 steps. 12 steps of my own invention. Consider this, step one.

Admitting I have a problem.

Step 2 is maybe the first on the actual road to recovery. A pact. A pact to use one camera and one lens for a year. 365 days. More on this tomorrow.

Tokyo, Japan.
Tokyo, Japan. 2011.

Josh’s blog.

Josh’s flickr.

Josh’s twitter.

Josh’s instagram.

Tokyo Diary 2014

Shinjuku, 2014
Shinjuku, 2014
Shinjuku, 2014

I’m currently on the skyliner, on the way to the narita airport to Hong Kong and wanted to share some reflections of my trip. For those of you who have never been to Tokyo, it is an incredible city. It is one of my favorite cities to shoot street photography in the world. There is so much action, energy, and a pulse to the city that isn’t matched anywhere else. Going to shibuya, shinjuku, and harajuku are like blasts to the past– with a modern day twist. I love the romanticism of Tokyo, and the food here is also amazing.

GoPro Tour of the Impossible Project Space in Tokyo with Mijonju

About a week ago I met up with my buddy Mijonju, a great photographer (who also has a great YouTube channel about film cameras). I visited him at the Impossible Project Space in Tokyo, and he gave me a tour of the store, taught me more about the Impossible Project, and his own interests in film and current projects.

Keep reading to see some of his Instant Photos!

Tokyo Street Photography Workshop Student Photos

Photograph by Paul Thompson. Click to see more of the Introduction to Street Photography Student Photos
Photograph by Paul Thompson. Click to see more of the Introduction to Street Photography Student Photos

I was very impressed with all of the student work with my last two workshops with Bellamy Hunt in Tokyo. For the Introduction to Street Photography Workshop, students focused on overcoming their fear in street photography, better understanding what to look for in a street photograph, and also improving their composition. For the Intermediate/Advanced Street Photography Workshops, students stepped outside of their comfort zone to find their own style and voice by focusing on a weekend project.

I hope you enjoy the images from all of the students!

Photograph by Steve Richards. Click to see all of the student photos from the Intermediate/Advanced Street Photography Workshop

As a note, there is also only 3 days left for the early-bird discount for my Calcutta Week-Long Introduction to Design/Composition Workshop with Adam Marelli (12/10-12/14). Don’t miss your chance to fully immerse yourself in the streets of India, break out of your creative rut, and have an unforgettable experience!

Experience the Neon Streets of Tokyo: Introduction to Street Photography Workshop in Tokyo with Bellamy Hunt (11/2-11/4)

Have you ever walked on the streets and saw a moment that you wanted to capture, but you were too scared to take the photograph? Would you like to learn how to overcome your fear of shooting on the streets and destroy those moments of hesitation? Do you want to meet other street photographers who are equally as passionate as you?

If you are a street photographer starting off and want more courage shooting on the streets, learning what to look for when shooting on the streets, or meeting other passionate street photographers this workshop is for you. Through this dynamic and hands-on 3-day workshop myself and Bellamy Hunt (aka Japan Camera Hunter) will cover some of the following topics:

  1. How to conquer your fear of shooting street photography
  2. How to become invisible and shoot without anybody noticing you
  3. How to react to people who get offended by street photography
  4. How to never miss “The Decisive Moment
  5. The best technical settings to use on your camera in street photography
  6. How to create memorable and timeless images
  7. The secret of creating beautiful black and white photographs
  8. The best way to tell a story through your street photography
  9. How to develop a razor-sharp eye when shooting on the streets
  10. The fundamentals of critique & feedback in street photography

3 Upcoming Street Photography Workshops in Japan (Intro, Intermediate/Advanced, Film) in Tokyo and Kyoto – November, 2012

(Above photo from my “Dark Skies Over Tokyo” series I shot last year in Tokyo)

Hey streettogs, I am excited to announce that I will be teaching a series of 3-day street photography workshops in Tokyo and Kyoto with my  good friend Bellamy Hunt, aka Japan Camera Hunter.

The first street photography workshop I did in Tokyo was last year, and it was a massive success. Passionate street photographers came from all across the globe, including the states, Europe, and Asia. We didn’t expect such a great turnout, but it was definitely one of the most memorable workshops I have taught.

There is something unique about shooting street photography in Tokyo.

The city has a sense of energy, a pulse, which inspires shooting street photography. The skyscrapers climb upwards endlessly, the colors are dazzling, qnd the streets never end with an infinite supply of people. It is quite unlike anywhere else in the world I have shot street photography.

Medium Format Environmental Street Portraits by Ade Ogunsanya (Street Portraitist) from Tokyo

Ade Ogunsanya
Eric’s Note: When I visited Tokyo recently to teach my street photography workshop, I had the great pleasure of meeting Ade Ogunsanya aka 

Street Portraitist through my good friends Charlie Kirk and Bellamy Hunt. Check out his project — shooting portraits of strangers on the streets of Tokyo, focusing both on the people and juxtaposing them against their environments. Definitely a great project to check out! 
The aim of this project is to connect with new people, find out a bit about them and try to take a nice picture of them in the short time I spend with them. Quite a few of the people I take photos of end up contacting me after and we end up becoming friends on social media and I have given prints to a few others. All of these images are taken using a Pentax67 medium format camera with 105mm or 165mm lenses. The main motivation for shooting MF is the extra care you have to take knowing you need to nail every shot.

Interview with Dairou Koga about the Tokyo-Ga Charity Book

Dairou Koga
Sean Wood

For this article, I had the great pleasure of interviewing Dairou Koga, who is a photographer and a bookmaker who recently put together the Tokyo-Ga Charity Book. The Tokyo-Ga Charity book is a collection of some of the finest Japanese street photography which is currently being sold help the victims of Japan in the March disaster. Keep reading to hear about this noble cause from Koga-san’s own mouth, and also see the inspirational images included in this book.